Demystifying Image Formats: How to Choose the Right One
Which logo file should I use? What’s the difference between CMYK and RGB? Does it even matter if I export to PNG or JPG? No-one will know the difference anyway, right?
The short answer: yes, it matters and yes, people will know. They might not know which specific format you’ve used, but they will know something doesn’t look right. So how do you choose the right image format? Read our handy guide below! You have questions about image and logo files, and we’re here to answer them.
A pixel image (also called a raster image) is made up of tiny squares that form the larger image. These squares are called pixels. How can you tell if you’re looking at a pixel graphic? There’s an easy check. Zoom in on an image, and if it’s a pixel image, you’ll start to see the little squares within the image.
Vector file graphics are stored as a mathematical equation. The shapes in the image are mapped out mathematically, so they will always readjust to keep their original shape. If you zoom in, you won’t see pixels – just smooth lines or unbroken curves.
CMYK refers to the colour printing process. It stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black (or Key Plate). CMYK should be used for any document where the file will be printed.
RGB refers to the system for representing colour and images on electronic screens. It stands for Red, Green, Blue. RGB should be used anywhere the file will be displayed on a screen.
JPEG is short for Joint Photographic Expert Group.
JPEGs (or JPGs) are pixel based images and one of the most commonly used formats for images and photography. This format is best used for printing and emailing.
PNG is short for Portable Network Graphic.
It is an image type commonly used in on-screen applications. PNGs can provide a transparent background and/or a semi-transparent image. They also display text and vector elements without losing quality.
PDF is short for Portable Document Format.
This is a file format for capturing and sending electronic documents in the exact, intended format – for example, when you want to preserve formatting on a report or image. A PDF can be viewed, printed or sent to someone else. PDFs are not easily editable.
EPS is short for Encapsulated PostScript.
This format is a Vector graphic which is stored as a mathematical equation. EPS files are editable and resizeable. You would supply this file when working with a sign writer, and they would then open it in a specialised design application like CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator.
In summary, we’ve provided a handy guide below for choosing the right format.
|Type||Name||Pixel / Vector||Best Use||Stationery & Signage||Emails & Websites||Social Media||Images & Photos||Document Sharing, Email Attachment||Sign Writing or Design Work|
|Colour Format – Print||CMYK||Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black||Vector||File will be printed.||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Colour Format – Screen||RGB||Red, Green, Blue||Pixel||File will be displayed on a screen.||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|File Type||JPEG||Joint Photographic Expert Group||Pixel||Common image format. Use for print and emailing.||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|File Type||PNG||Portable Network Graphics||Pixel||Can provide a transparent background; displays text without loss of quality. Use online.||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|File Type||Portable Document Format||Pixel and Vector||Sending documents in an exact format. Not easily editable.||✔️||✔️|
|File Type||EPS||Encapsulated PostScript||Vector||Working with a designer or sign writer.||✔️|
Do you have a favourite logo format? Have we missed one of your must-haves? Let us know in the comments!
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